“2016 could have been a Guinness year for Garda olive oil: an exceptional campaign that the appearance of the olive fruit fly has ruined but not compromised.” This is the opinion of Paolo Venturini (pictured), head of Montecroce olive mill in Desenzano, leader in the excellence extra virgin oil sector on Lake Garda: this farm gathers and works in a special way the olive production in an area that reaches from Sirmione to Manerba, also conveying the small harvests of many families and small farmers in hobby character.
“It ‘s just their oil, which usually accounts for about 50% of the total squeezed every year from our mill, that’s been missing in the last campaign – says Venturini -. This year the conditions were for one of the higher harvests of recent years, but the arrival of the fly hit hard especially in those small plots where the plants were not followed with treatments recommended by the technicians and absolutely necessary for the containment of the insect. Only structured companies were saved: for the rest losses were high, especially in the medium-high lake “.
Despite everything, Montecroce closed the season with a crushing production increase of around 40% compared to 2015.
“Given the conditions we are satisfied, even if it was not easy even for ripening vintage, as we had a not particularly hot summer: also in the mill the job required a double commitment because of a meticulous work of selection. But in the end it was worth it. ”
Venturini, who spoke of the new characteristics of the oil of the Garda during a recent seminar at Olio Officina Festival in Milan, has no doubts: 2016 is the year of “sweetness”.
“This year we got high pleasantness oils, more soft, sweet, typical of a year that has exalted the delicacy often associated with Garda and Liguria. There is no doubt a lower polyphenols level: this means less evident spicy notes than in the hot years, and oil with shortest life, best consumed within the year. These are the characteristics expressed by our area during the last campaign: an impression in front of which the mill can not do much if not respect and maintain the same characteristics of the olive gained in one context and craft of a certain ground ” .
Montecroce owns 1000 plants from which come the olives for the DOP Garda Bresciano Extravergine, peak reference of the mill of which this year 100 tons were produced (compared to 60 in 2015): other reference label is the monocultivar Casaliva, alongside the basic extra virgin made also with the olives the growers leave on consignment. Products that you can taste and buy directly from the farm (reservation required for groups with a tour for an hour and a half), and who are the protagonists in these days of high-level professional tasting with sommelier associations of oil in New York and in Japan. Not only Montecroce also organizes small seminars tasting in the hotels to introduce this great product of the Garda hills.
“We can be satisfied – concludes Venturini -. We have increased the level of prevention in the fields even in the face of what happened in a disastrous year as 2014, and this has undoubtedly rewarded. Of course, however, we would need a unique attitude for all the area. This means that in case of problems the interventions should be mandatory for anyone: it would be the only way to defend and safeguard a sector which has become one of the jewels of Lake Garda “.